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Goodyear's Keegan: 'We're beginning to execute well in North America'

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s new products -- including its Assurance line -- are contributing to the company's recovery, according to Goodyear Chairman and CEO Bob Keegan.

"Our new products are having a major impact in our markets," Keegan told analysts during a teleconference this morning.

Demand for Assurance "is more than three times our initial expectation. Prices are holding at premium levels."

In fact, "pricing discipline has been as good as anything we've ever enjoyed."

Keegan says Goodyear is eager to add new sizes to the Assurance line.

Goodyear's sales for the first quarter of 2004 totaled $4.3 billion, a 21% increase over the first quarter of 2003 and a company record.

The Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker's total segment operating income was $216.1 million during Q1 2004, a five-fold increase vs. $42 million achieved during the same period last year.

Goodyear's Q1 tire unit volume grew 3.1 million units from 52.6 million units during Q1 2003.

Its Q1 2004 net loss was $76.9 million vs. $196.5 million lost during the same period last year.

"We continue to expect strong operating earnings growth" during the second quarter of 2004, says Keegan.

"Our new products are driving improved volume, pricing and mix."

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